After last year's deeply embarrassing Shirley Sherrod episode, you'd think people would have learned their lesson about conservative publisher Andrew Breitbart. But no! The University of Missouri has asked a professor to resign thanks to another stupid Breitbart video. Ugh.
Until last week, Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik reports, adjunct professor Don Giljum was teaching a class on the history of labor at the University of Missouri's St. Louis campus. Because the class is team-taught with another professor, Judy Ancel, who teaches from the Kansas City campus, each session is broadcast over a video link, allowing students on each campus to interact—and recording every class session. Breitbart blogger Publius got some video from the class, likely through a student, and posted two articles (here and here) calling the class a "how-to college course on violent union tactics."
In the video, Giljum appears to say that violence "certainly has its place" in labor tactics, while Ancel seems to say "violence is a tactic, and it's to be used when it's appropriate — the appropriate tactic." The two posts were put up on April 25, a Monday; by Friday, Giljum had resigned, telling Inside Higher Ed that a dean had told him that her superiors had asked her to obtain his resignation.
You can see where this is heading, right? A thorough Media Matters debunking of the BigGovernment.com posts shows that the videos were specious garbage, edited to literally put words in the mouths of the professors. Giljum quite clearly dismisses violence as a labor tactic, saying that "as time has changed, the tactics have changed, or the need for those have changed... I think it would do more harm than good." In an even more egregious edit, the quote about violence attributed to Ancel is in fact Ancel quoting a man in a documentary they had just watched. (BigGovernment.com has "rebutted" the Media Matters piece by pointing out that Ancel gets the quote wrong, which seems to be missing the whole point, but why bother.)
In fact, the Kansas City campus backed up Ancel and Giljum in a statement, saying the videos were edited "in an inaccurate and distorted manner." And yet, even so, Giljum was asked to resign. His theory is that the University is "focused on preserving funding," and given that Missouri's Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, a Republican candidate for governor, has been blustering about the videos and the "pro-communist left," we're inclined to agree.
But this isn't just about Giljum's job: As the professors and the university pointed out, Breitbart's video violates the privacy rights of the students, whose faces are visible and voices audible. (Ancel says, "one of my students told me, with some discomfort, 'My boss watches Fox News.'") Both Giljum and Ancel have also received death threats; uniformed police have been posted around Ancel's office.
Breitbart, meanwhile, spent the weekend as he always does, retweeting Twitter comments about himself. Luckily, since he took down the institutional left last year, no one's left to stand in the way of Breitbart getting more adjunct professors, the last true enemies of democracy left, fired from their exorbitantly well-paid and extremely secure jobs. In fact, the campaign against Giljum was just the start of Breitbart's plan to "go after the teachers and union organizers," as he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. Good luck, Andrew! Let us know if you need anyone to work Final Cut Pro.
[Inside Higher Ed; image via AP]